Age is among the most common causes of infertility. Fertility and the chances of conceiving decrease in women with aging. The same can apply in men; however, men can reproduce for a longer period of time than women, as women reach menopause at an earlier age.
Age and Infertility in Women
The fertility of women will drop starting from the age of 30. Even if there is no definite cut off date for women (or men) when it comes to reproduction, the chances of conception decrease with age. Ideally, women should avoid getting pregnant after the age of 50, provided they aren’t menopausal, as the chances of birth defects are higher in children with older mothers.
Women are born with a finite number of ovules, which age together with the owner. The older the woman gets, the more possible problems the DNA of the eggs may have. DNA may get damaged due to aging and different environmental factors. Other theories claim that the best ovules are released earlier in life, while the more damaged ones will be released when the woman gets older.
Age and Infertility in Men
Even if the amount of sperm produced decreases with age, men are able to reproduce until their senior years. Men are able to produce sperm for a long time, and the sperm supply is refreshed every 3 months. Consequently, aging will not typically affect the quality of sperm. However, with aging, a number of factors may occur and these can be a viable cause for infertility:
- Lower levels of testosterone
- Low sperm motility
- Prostate problems
- Erectile dysfunction
- Ejaculation problems
- Toxin exposure
- Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine consumption
- Lower libido and decreased sexual activity
When to Seek Help
It is important to get help if the partners try for 6 months to conceive without being successful, if the woman is over 30, while women under 30 may wait for 1 year to seek help. The detection of a fertility problem may take a few months and the treatment may take from a few months to years. An early detection can increase the chances of a complete treatment and a successful conception. The detection of fertility issues may be done by performing a few blood tests and by analyzing the sperm quality.
The treatment may depend on the findings and may contain a few drugs, as well as hormone treatment.
In order to increase fertility at an advanced age, there are a few methods that can come in handy:
- Diet and vitamin supplementation (zinc is an excellent fertility booster both for men and women)
- Reducing alcohol, caffeine and nicotine consumption
- Yoga or other relaxation techniques
- Herbal remedies
- Hormonal therapy
There are also other alternatives that can help conception such as in vitro fertilization (more recommended for patients after the age of 40) or intrauterine insemination.